DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — “If walls could talk,” the adage goes. But what about flooring? The tiles and carpeting Trent Buck lays down do talk, and they have news to share: the Good News.
Buck, a local flooring contractor, has found a way to elevate these downtrodden underpinnings, giving them a higher calling by writing prayers into them, purposed for the families dwelling within.
“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now, ever since my faith journey took off,” Buck says. “Proverbs says we’re to speak life into people.” He takes it seriously.
When he and his neighbor, Jim Keeley, a real estate agent, worked on a house together a few years back, Keeley caught the bug. “It was bare concrete,” Keeley says, “and we wrote prayers on the floors on the concrete through the whole thing.”
He began doing the same with the other homes he shows.
Later, Keeley learned there had been two fatalities in a home he purchased, from illness and a house fire. So they prayed over the whole property. “We wanted it to be a place of love and peace, hope and blessing.”
A miraculous change
But this story extends beyond floorboards, and Keeley has been privileged to have been a witness to it. “It’s miraculous to see the changes God has brought into Trent’s life.”
Having overcome addiction, he says, Buck now wants to give others hope by conveying, “We’re all broken, but you can overcome that, and this is how I’m going to bless your life, because this is what God did for me.”
Buck reveals that our calling as Christians isn’t contained to a church building, Keeley adds. “(God) calls us to be his hands and feet, seven days a week.”
Though Buck grew up Christian, at some point, faith lost its meaning. “Addiction got into my life at about 16,” he says. “My parents got divorced, and I battled with that.”
Then one day, he sensed an interior calling to become a minister. “I thought that meant being a pastor.” It took him a while to realize he’d be ministering to people in a different way.
“When I built my house, I wrote prayers on the two-by-fours,” he says, and that started things rolling. “It’s really cool how God can move in an off-color carpenter’s life.”
When he returned to church, he started asking himself, “How do you serve God without being on a church board?” In time, it hit him. “Jesus was humble. He served people where they were at. People in the service trade have the same heart — to serve others.”
Now, when he leaves Christian Fellowship Church in Detroit Lakes on Sunday, a sign meets him: “You are now entering your mission field.” And Buck seeks to live it out. “I know people who are missionaries, but if God doesn’t call you to that, it’s important to go where you are called.”
Having relied on others’ prayers when at his lowest, Buck wants to offer the same to those who cross his path, and will boldly ask homeowners if, and how, he can pray for them. “It breaks your heart, because some say, ‘Nobody’s ever asked to pray for me before,’” he says. “It changes people’s lives when you pray and invite the Holy Spirit to come. They can feel God. It’s tangible.”
Called to be a light
Laura Knoll met Buck recently when hiring him for some flooring work at her family’s cabin at Little Cormorant Lake. She was surprised, and grateful, when Buck asked, before starting, if she had any prayer needs, and what they were.
“He asked me if I minded if he prayed over our project and wrote prayers on the floor underneath our flooring as he was installing,” she says. She’s since noticed that while he works, he listens to Christian music to stay inspired.
“He feels led in his daily work to be that light, to spread kindness and God’s love over all the people he’s working for,” Knoll continues. “He wrote beautiful prayers throughout our home, sending Scripture verses ahead of time by text. And he has prayed over our family. We are blessed by his example.”
In this hurting and broken world, she says, “we need more people like Trent, to just point to Jesus, and to be (God’s) hands and feet in action in our daily lives — in any circumstance.”
Buck’s actions were a reminder, she says, that no matter what line of work we’re in, we can lift up others through prayer. “It’s a blessing knowing we’re walking on (those prayers), and that God is guiding our footsteps. It honors what we as a family want to radiate and bear fruit.”
Walking on God’s promises
While he can’t give Buck all the credit, Joseph Allen says, “Trent helped save me.” And the prayers he wrote into the floorboards played a role.
“I was a pretty disgruntled veteran and in a very bad position,” he says of the period when he met Buck. “The house we were living in was sold, and we had to rush into finding another home.”
They inspected one where Buck was doing the flooring. “When we walked through it, he was putting new carpet down and in the process of writing Bible verses on the carpet, floor pad, everything — just different Scriptures,” Allen says, “whatever he felt the Holy Spirit was leaning on him that day.”
He was struck by this. “I’d never heard of anybody doing that, so it was kind of a shock.” But eventually, it took hold in his heart. “He had said something to the effect, about why he puts them there,” Allen recalls. “ ‘You’re walking on the promises that God has for you, through the prayers.’ ”
They didn’t end up buying that house, but it started a conversation, and a friendship.
Currently, Allen and his wife, Marcia, attend a Bible college in Colorado to be missionary pastors. “Trent was one of many people who helped me start on the road of getting out of my trauma from combat,” he says. “I was not a nice person for about 10 years. I’d given up on people, and on God … I lived in my basement playing video games.”
But in part through Trent, and the connections he led Allen to, his life was transformed. “I’ve seen firsthand the evil that can be in a man’s heart, and when I came home (from Iraq), everything fell apart. I was done. But God wasn’t done with me yet, because here I am, and it’s because of guys like Trent that really helped me out.”
Allen says he’s especially impressed by how Buck puts himself second. “When he’s doing his thing, it’s his ministry, and it’s all about the other person. It’s not about him,” he says. “He goes above and beyond to do what God wants him to do, and one of the ways is by writing these Scriptures on the bottom of people’s carpets.”
These quiet prayers “just spur you on,” he adds. “It encourages you just knowing they’re there.”
A laminate legacy
Even when the current owners of a given home have moved on, Keeley says, others will take their place, and the prayers will remain. “Maybe in 30, 50 years, long after I’m gone, someone might take that floor up, and those prayers are going to be there. That’s God’s eternal word,” he says. “Or maybe in 100 years, someone will find those verses, and it could change their lives.”
Buck adds, “We don’t know what a person’s going through, but it usually has nothing to do with us.” He’s had conversations with people that started cordially but ended with the person sharing their struggles and shedding tears of gratitude.
“People are healed all the time when we pray for them,” Buck says. “It’s powerful when you are authentic and vulnerable and share your own story. It opens up the door, and people are healed and delivered.”
If floors could talk, and sometimes they do, they might just say, “Amen.”
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on May 26, 2023.]